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Your First Encounter With Lewis

The man. The myth.

Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby deadwhitemale » 15 Feb 2009, 04:30

I believe I had heard vaguely of Lewis' "Space trilogy" from someone at church when I was 13 or so, but I didn't follow up on it. (I probably would have, if I had known of Lewis' connection with Tolkien, as I was already a big Tolkien fan then.) In my teens I am sure I read a little bit about Lewis' work in places like Lin Carter's fairly comprehensive book on fantastic literature, but, again, did not follow up.

And I probably saw the occasoion C.S. Lewis quote here and there as well, without it really registering on me who he was. I am reasonably certain that it was not until sometime in the second half of 1979 that I actually read any of Lewis' books. I think I started with one of the Chronicles of Narnia, probably The Last Battle. I remember being moved to tears by parts of it. I think The Magician's Nephew came next, and that also jerked a tear or two. (of course, I was going through a difficult time then, and was often close to tears anyway.)

Sometime in the fall of '79 I started reading his "apologetic" works. I think I started with Mere Christianity, then Miracles, then The Problem of Pain. I didn't care much for The Problem of Pain at the time. The Screwtape Letters didn't initially work for me either, thought I have since found something to like in it. I should probably give The Problem of Pain another chance as well.

Around that time the combination of reading two -- no, three -- things -- a clever and strirring synopsis of Shakespeare's King Lear by Fritz Leiber, and an essay that dealt in part with King Lear -- the part about First Servant, and how his would have been the best part to play if it had been Real Life -- by C.S. Lewis, and another essay by Lewis about Shakespearean criticism, titled "Hamlet: the Prince Or the Poem?" -- prompted me to give Shakespeare another chance too, after having been thoroughly put off the Bard's work by the way it had been taught in high school. Hm, now that I think of it, reading Huxley's Brave New World about that time may have played a role as well. It's funny how sometimes a lot of things will converge at once. :thinking:

Anyway I collected and read a lot of Lewis' work thoughout the Eighties, and came to think of him as a sort of posthumous "master," much the way he thought of George MacDonald. Around 1988-'89 I had a slight falling out with Lewis over something in his book, The Four Loves, something about differing conceptions of patriotism. But I've gotten over it. Or, rather, I have "agreed to disagree" with him on some small points.

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"It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun." -- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim(1899?)
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby historyb » 24 Mar 2009, 05:07

My first encounter with Lewis was when I had my osteoarthritis and leg scissor correction surgery and I was in the Hospital for almost a month and my Sunday school class brought me a dramatic production on tape of The Chronicles of Narnia. I loved them and a lady from my Church brought in the books after that and I devoured them.
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby The Quangle Wangle » 24 Mar 2009, 16:57

Having the the Chronicles read to me when i was so small I can hardly remember it. I think I got scared when the White Witch appeared and my mum had to stop reading me the book for a while and come back to it later. Then I think I read the rest myself - I remember reading the Silver Chair in a day - which took me pretty much the whole day and was very tiring simply from having to sit still so long.
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby ainulindale » 03 May 2009, 03:21

several encounters of increasing depth... ?

first was when my mother read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to me at a very young age, and my deepest wonder about that was what turkish delight might be like.

later around age 12 I read "The Magicians Nephew" for school and some parts of it like the wood between the worlds really awakened my imagination, the first book to do that...

in my early twenties i read this book called "Behaving as if the god in all life mattered" which mentioned a farm named after Perelandra, so soon after that i read Perelandra, and my morality was greatly moved, especially while inside that cave...
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby msd1835 » 05 May 2009, 16:01

I think God had been trying to get me to read Lewis for years; yet I could not see it. I had friends in college that loved Lewis, but I was not that interested in it. When "Lord of the Rings" (movie) came out I started to get interested in fantasy novels and read them all. As soon as I saw the trailer for "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" I started to read the Chronicles. After doing that I have read just about anything I could get my hands on by C.S. Lewis. He had such a way with words and logic that transcends anything else I have ever read. His books made me passionate about reading, and passionate about my life of faith. "Mere Christianity" and "Screwtape letters" are a huge influence on my life.
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby lewisfan59 » 16 Sep 2009, 16:50

I read Narnia in high school, SL in college and the Perelandra series inbetween. Now we're doing a Wed. night study at church on SL, MC, POP and AGO-can't wait!

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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby maralewisfan » 14 Oct 2009, 17:48

I first read Screwtape on the advise/suggestion of my pastor. I was most impressed with Screwtape Proposes a Toast due to the fact that my son had been in gifted classes at his school and once he moved on to the upper grades, we learned that they were lowering the standards for who would be in gifted classes (This would have been late 80s or early 90s). I have bought or been given most of the Lewis books and still yearn for more.
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby Dr. U » 09 Nov 2009, 22:29

In my freshman English class in a public high school in a somewhat scruffy steel mill neighborhood in Chicago, at one point, the teacher gave us a list of novels we could pick from for our next book to read and write about. There were perhaps 10-12 novels, I don't really remember. One was Out of the Silent Planet. I already liked science fiction, and most of the rest didn't sound interesting to me. I went to a public library and checked it out that afternoon, not knowing anything about Lewis. (This idea of giving kids a choice of books was a great idea!)

Lewis wrote about his experience reading Phantases by George MacDonald without knowing anything about his Christian faith, just picking up an interesting novel for, I think, a train trip. He later wrote that he realized that day that he had crossed some type of intellectual frontier as he read Phantases, that he realized years later it had "baptized his imagination", and that what he met for the first time in a powerful within the novel, was holiness. I was not an atheist teen, as Lewis was, but for me Planet had an effect something like that, taking my thoughts and imagination to consider life and the universe in a new and very different way.

For about seven years, I used OOTSP as a required book in one of my university classes, that dealt with science and worldview. It was interesting to read the response essays: for some students, it profoundly affected their thinking and emotions; others didn't seem to understand the novel, even, in a few cases, disappointed that there wasn't "more action", looking for something like a Hollywood special effects flic I guess. B/c of this class, I've probably re-read this book more than any other of Lewis' books. I am now also in awe of his gift of storytelling - it is such a masterpiece of gradually-revealed convictions of the novel's characters, including the whole Malacandran worldview and culture, and all that Maleldil is.

After OOTSP, I went looking for more Lewis books in libraries and bookstores, reading first the rest of the Trilogy, and graduating pretty quickly to his non-fiction. His books profoundly changed the way I looked at faith in a Christ, and also at the importance of the life of the mind, at a chaotic time in my life as a teenager. Thanks, Jack.
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby maralewisfan » 10 Nov 2009, 00:02

I was in the midst of a divorce that I no idea was coming and my pastor was talking about Screwtape in a Bible study. I bought the book and now have a collection of Lewis going. I just finished the first two books in the Space Trilogy and I really like Perelandra. I'm not big on SciFi or fantasy, but I would read Lewis anytime.
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby equustel » 03 Dec 2009, 17:41

Dr. U - it's been so many years since I read OOTSP; you make me want to pick it up again!

I believe I was around 6 or 7 when I first saw the BBC adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - that's what did it. I would rent it over and over again (it was on two VHS tapes, which I thought was so cool and epic). Finally, my mom got down an old 1950s paperback collection of the Chronicles that she'd only recently remembered she had. I was completely fascinated by Narnia, even dreamed it so vividly once that I told my mom I was certain it was real.

Many years later, I discovered a copy of Mere Christianity tucked away on my parents' bookshelf - they'd never really read it themselves, but I decided to give it a shot. (I must mention that it was yet another awesome vintage paperback - '60s style - the same one I own today. LOVE old books!) It completely changed me. I had never before dreamed there was so much to the faith I'd clung to with such simplicity over the years. I was astonished, giddy, fascinated. That book sparked something in me that's still burning; I always have to be reading some kind of book on theology or spiritual thinking alongside whatever novel I have going at the moment. During the long years in high school and college when the various churches I attended weren't doing much for me, Lewis and the many authors he's led me to quietly spoke truth to me.
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby Tumnus's Books » 05 Dec 2009, 01:26

It's great to see this thread still rolling after a year. Here's another question to consider: Are there times of the year when you are more drawn to read Lewis than others? In other words, do you have a "Lewis season"? I know I do...it always seems to be in the autumn months for some reason. And I go through cycles as well- Tolkien, then Lewis, then other theological writings, then poetry, then some contemporary fiction, then back to Tolkien, Lewis, etc. etc.

I've been listening to Mere Christianity on audio CD again, and I think the new Screwtape is next...
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby jo » 05 Dec 2009, 22:53

I am in a Tolkien frame of mind at the moment :). Sometimes I go through phases for specific Lewis books but I don't think time of year has anything to do with it..
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Re: Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby Adam Linton » 07 Dec 2009, 22:06

Tumnus's Books wrote:In other words, do you have a "Lewis season"? I know I do...it always seems to be in the autumn months for some reason. And I go through cycles as well- Tolkien, then Lewis, then other theological writings, then poetry, then some contemporary fiction, then back to Tolkien, Lewis, etc. etc.


For me it isn't a time of year--but rather something like a "meta-season." Lewis and Tolkien are never completely absent from my screen, so to speak, but every few years I cycle back to them for more intense re-connections/re-engagements.
we have not loosely through silence permitted things to pass away as in a dream
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